Saturday, 31 May 2014

Bristol Churches

St Stephen's in the city centre has a wonderful mixture of a traditional stained glass window and a modern                                                                   enamel-inset reredos.

In spite of living in Bristol for five years, I never visited St Mary Redcliffe. What an omission, it's brilliant! Queen Elizabeth 1 described it as "The fairest, goodliest and most famous parish church in England" Much damaged in the Second World War, the stained glass is mostly Victorian, the original fourteenth century ones                                                        were destroyed by Cromwell.

Some of the best portraits.

The Cabots and their voyages commemorated.


Two modern windows, I'm told this is the only lady with  handbag in a church, and the nude below must be almost unique.

The outside is another treasure trove of gargoyles and grotesques.

A couple of green men inside.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Mendip Churches, Gargoyles, Glass and Myths

We recently had our 40 years from graduation reunion in Bristol, & took the opportunity to walk in the Mendips and indulge my interest in old churches and their carvings and windows.
Somerset ir renowned for its Churches, many with medieval origins rebuilt in Victorian Gothic style by wealthy wool merchants and subsequently tobacco money.
The Church of the holy Trinity, Burrington has fine grotesques and gargoyles. The pot-pourer is rather unusual.

The legend of the Pelican feeding its young her own blood in time of famine in an old pre-Christian one, taken up by the church like so many other ideas and festivals. Like many others depicted in Churches this one looks more like a swan. They were introduced to St James's park in 1664, but travelling there for a country craftsman would have been very difficult.

St Andrew's Blagdon has one of the tallest spires in Somerset, about 116 feet, dating from the 15th century. Much of the rest was built in the early 20th century by the Wills tobacco family. The magnificent vaulted ceiling in the tower was hidden and quite unknown until recent major renovations.

Detail of a stained glass window depicting Aaron. Before turning into a serpent his rod brought down the plagues of Egypt. He features in Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
The grotesques, as so often, are chimaeric beings with parts of lion, bat, bull human and who-knows-what else.

St James the Great, Winscombe, consecrated in 1236, some strange carvings on the floor. Aliens or representations of the inevitability of Death?



Saturday, 17 May 2014

Spring in the Mendips

Nothing like a good bluebell wood to reassure you that Summer really Is Icumen In, we also heard cuckoos, how appropriate!

Holly Blue, Celastrina argiolus, the flower's a bit of a give-away. It's also a bit bigger than our smallest, the Small Blue, no imagination the people who name butterflies. What about something like Furry Little Ghost, or Light-as-a-Cloud? I suppose like plants Latin names they're descriptive and so easy to remember.

Finally a fine cricket, no idea which one, the adults are hard enough, on a Speedwell. The whole flower is only 6 or 7mm so he's tiny

Fused and Dragons

Regular followers may remember I'm doing fused glass, stained glass & pottery classes. Fused glass is brilliant, get some leftover bits of Bullseye glass, put them in the kiln and you have a rainbow, or anything else you can imagine.

I've collected dragons since teenage, so the obvious next project was to make my own, this is the first. I think I'll now do Earth, Air, Fire and Water Dragons combining porcelain and fused glass.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Little Moreton Hall

I've got really behind with posting things, I blame the MOOCs, very time consuming, nothing like the estimated 3 or 4 hours a week, but well worth the time. It's been wet & very windy today so the garden's had  a rest too. No more excuses, for today at least. On the way to Kettlewell a couple of days ago we stopped al Little Moreton Hall near Congleton on Cheshire. Built in 1504 and 1610, it was added to in its early years but the family fell on hard times (on the "wrong" side in the civil war ) around 1660, it was let to tennants after that and so avoided much of the Victorian "improvement" that altered so many other historic buildings.

It's a wonderful timbered building. Originally the oak would have been left untreated, the familiar black is a Victorian attempt to preserve it with tar, sadly this kept the damp in rather than out.

As a very wealthy family they could spend plenty on decorations,

and stained glass. Word-play is nothing new, this one shows the "maw-tun" family name.

Old leaded windows, crinkly handmade glass give a slightly drunk appearance to the courtyard.

The great hall was added , almost os a loft extension, and nearly destroyed the whole building, for a long time visitors were restricted but now it's been made safe.

Finally the huge variety of roof tiles, why don't we have such names now? I'd love to go into B&Q and ask for fifty Rogue-why-winkest-thous.

Moslem Burial Ground.

Our Moslem Burial Ground, after extensive renovation is basically finished, such an improvement. The land around it has been cleared and all that's needed now is the landscaping inside. I'm looking forward to seeing the traditional formal gardens. I hope enough people will visit to keep it safe.